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'Twas the Cruise During Christmas - Zuiderdam 2018


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8 minutes ago, 1ANGELCAT said:

Regarding Amber Cove, is there a beach area other than the VIP area  in the photo ?

TIA

 

Yes, but it's nowhere near as nice as Half Moon Cay. Here's a photo from Carnival's excursions page. We didn't take photos of the beach. It's protected and the water looked clean as did the sand. It just wasn't in the same league as HMC's beach.

 

ccl-beach-photo-amber-cove.jpg.276270853d514551eb3719c42ea037f8.jpg

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Random Tip for Most of the HAL Ships:

 

I'm not even sure where to file this.  Now that there are USB ports beside most of the beds, we found that 6 foot USB cables really came in handy. (There's a link to the ones I bought on Amazon. They're heavy duty, which is important with the longer cords.) Once you exceed 3 feet or 1 meter, the quality is important. A good cord won't suffer from power loss or wear out quickly. The extra length allows you to charge your phone or tablet and still read in bed. (Or post random messages to your Live thread.)  The Apple lighting version is here. It costs more than the plain USB cords, but that's the joy of owning an iPad or iPhone.

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8 hours ago, POA1 said:

See if you can save the files. If you can and you have Acrobat, you should be able to open them.  Here are Apple's instructions:

 

Thanks for the tips, but when I try to save the files I still get a blank page. I usually have no problem saving most files so I know how to do it, but my Mac is 10.9 so maybe that is part of the problem. I will go onward with the rest of your posts!

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Finally caught up on all the posts. We also loved HMC, the beach there is the best. We enjoyed Amber Cove & I zip lined on & off through the morning. Thanks again for taking the time to do this very detailed study .

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3 hours ago, PSR said:

 

Thanks for the tips, but when I try to save the files I still get a blank page. I usually have no problem saving most files so I know how to do it, but my Mac is 10.9 so maybe that is part of the problem. I will go onward with the rest of your posts!

 

We have a 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee here at the National Institute of Cheer, so try this as a workaround.

 

https://www.instituteofcheer.com/img/2018/2018-Christmas-Zuiderdam-Dinner-All.zip

 

If that doesn't work, email me - poa1 - at - instituteofcheer.com and I can send you the ZIP file, It's only 1,114KB, so it should be manageable.

 

 

Edited by POA1
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1 hour ago, ski ww said:

Finally caught up on all the posts. We also loved HMC, the beach there is the best. We enjoyed Amber Cove & I zip lined on & off through the morning. Thanks again for taking the time to do this very detailed study .

 

I was surprised at how reasonable, at least to me, the zip line pricing was at $20 for unlimited use. If you're on a HAL ship and you're not in port with a kid-heavy Carnival ship, I would imagine that you'd have a fairly uncrowded experience. (Although my wife and some friends did a zip line excursion in Barbados and there was a 75 year old passenger who did it.)

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Poohby Joe's Guide to Cabana Living - 2018 Edition

 

I've got a few appointments today, so I'll just start with the pricing information. The chart below lists the 2018 prices. I called Seattle and these are the prices currently in effect for 2019. (Put on your shocked faces because the HAL phone rep didn't have any information on whether or how much prices were going to change later this year. You may take off your shocked face now.)  They've held the line on prices since 2017, so I don't know how long these prices will be in effect. Hopefully until after our next Christmas cruise.

 

2019-cabana-pricing.thumb.jpg.26ae52207701e5e47b76dd0656ea8f09.jpg

 

The "sell sheet" for the cabanas is attached as a PDF. Have the phone rep send it to you when you book. There's reason for that, which I'll cover later. (Oooh... Suspense!)

 

HAL-Cabanas.pdf

 

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Once you receive the Cabana PDF from HAL, take a note of what's supposed to be included:

 

CABANA AMENITIES
The following amenities are included with your cabana rental:

 

  • Luxurious loungers and table
  • Separate seating area (Cabana Club and Retreat only)
  • Towel setup and bathrobes
  • Hot and cold towels
  • Handheld fans
  • Evian Brumisateur® mister
  • Chilled bottled water setup
  • Fruit basket
  • Healthy breakfast and lunch choices available at the Cabana Club and Retreat
  • Ice cream and condiments in the early afternoon
  • Glass of sparkling wine
  • Chocolate-dipped strawberries and frozen grapes late afternoon
  • 20% savings on Signature Services at the Greenhouse Spa & Salon on port days

The highlighted items weren't available on our sailing, and according to a few other of our known cabana associates, they've been missing for a while. This doesn't mean that your vacation will be RUINED as can happen if any of the indicator LEDs in the elevators are out, but you'll want to be aware of it. Years ago there were also slippers in the retreat/cabana club area. Those are no longer on the list. (They were nicer slippers than you'd get in a Neptune Suite. We're talking high-end disposable hotel slippers here, my friend.)

 

I'm not sure what you can do with this information - and you certainly don't want to take it out on the cabana attendants. I doubt that they have a secret stash of Evian misters somewhere that they're holding back. However, if you want to write a letter to Seattle or complain to the front desk, you might as well be armed with a print out of the amenities.  For the record, we didn't mention the shortfall other than posting about it here. We have a bunch of fans and Evian misters that we've collected over the years. (I'm not even sure what the appeal is of the Evian facial mister, but DW thinks they're great. It's water. In a bottle. They're about $7.50 each on Amazon. "But they're pretty!")

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Our cruise was the first one we've been on that had cabanas available for rent by the day. They're usually fully sold out to full cruise cabanistas*, and I did not expect to see daily renters. However, the cabanas were only about 2/3 full,if that. One of the family cabanas was out of service. It (the cabana, not the family) is the topless one in the photos that follow. As a result, we had a fair number of day renters, particularly on sea days. I reached out to some people who regularly rent cabanas and the day rentals are rare. It's not just me. I wouldn't count on being to rent by the day. 

 

* - Not a word, but it sounds like one, no?  

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9 hours ago, POA1 said:

We have a 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee here at the National Institute of Cheer, so try this as a workaround.

 

Congratulations! You still have a 100% guarantee! Got the file and really enjoyed looking at the menus. The regular menus look very similar to our Alaska menus of August-September of 2018. The Christmas Eve menu looked (in layout), very similar to the "International Dinner" (or something like that name) menu HAL used to have about 5-6 years ago or so that had items from all over the world and you could choose one item from Asia and another from Europe. I really liked it but I guess most didn't...it vanished. Liked it better than the "Food Council" dinner menu they have now.

 

Also appreciated the Pinnacle Grill and Caneletto menus, saved them to use to review for our short Hawaii-Vancouver Noordam cruise in May 2019.

 

Thanks for your help! :classic_smile:

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12 hours ago, PSR said:

 

Congratulations! You still have a 100% guarantee! Got the file and really enjoyed looking at the menus. The regular menus look very similar to our Alaska menus of August-September of 2018. The Christmas Eve menu looked (in layout), very similar to the "International Dinner" (or something like that name) menu HAL used to have about 5-6 years ago or so that had items from all over the world and you could choose one item from Asia and another from Europe. I really liked it but I guess most didn't...it vanished. Liked it better than the "Food Council" dinner menu they have now.

 

Also appreciated the Pinnacle Grill and Caneletto menus, saved them to use to review for our short Hawaii-Vancouver Noordam cruise in May 2019.

 

Thanks for your help! :classic_smile:

 

Glad you were able to see the menus.  We had a fairly normal "silver" menu on the first gala night, a "green" menu on Christmas eve and a "red" on Christmas day.  The green and red menus were in special menu folders similar to the ones they use on a normal gala night. I saw people from first seating leaving with copies and I should have grabbed one - or at least taken a photo. Oh well... All the more reason to take another Christmas cruise!

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The Retreat Cabana area on the Zuiderdam and the other three Vista Class ships (Noordam, Oosterdam, and Westerdam) is large compared with the newer ships. There's no passenger area above the cabanas, so I was unable to take photos from above that would take in the whole area.  I took three panoramic shots in an attempt to get in as much of the cabana area as possible.  If you look at the PDF brochure for the cabanas, it would appear that the Zuiderdam's cabanas have names in much the same way as the ones on the Nieuw Amsterdam do. The diagram in the brochure is incorrect. The Zuiderdam's cabanas are numbered: 1 through 16.

 

vista-cabanas-2018.thumb.jpg.cf88b346ce9589665f16532005443ffc.jpg

 

 

When we requested a cabana location, I asked for Palma de Mallorca based on the brochure. We wound up with #8, which is the same cabana - minus the elegant name. "Meet me up in Santorini" sounds nicer than "I'll be in #4."  That gives off more of a cell block vibe than the Mediterranean island names do. Starting on the starboard and moving clockwise toward port, this is the cabana layout.

 

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It was very windy on several of the days and the poor cabana guys spent a lot of their time trying to keep the cushions from blowing away.  (I mention this in case you think that we were a bunch of raging animals throwing recliner cushions hither and yon.)

Edited by POA1
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While the Retreat/Cabana Club areas on the Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam were roughly rectangular in shape, the one on the Zuiderdam is shaped more like a squared off U. It's not reflected on the diagram in the previous post, but there are two large open areas just past the first and last cabins.

 

The open area just past cabana #16. The stairway to deck below of through the door by the fakus (artificial ficus.) There's a door to the crew-only area directly past this door at the top of the stairwell. You don't have to use the stairway to the cabana area. There is also a small elevator that runs from Deck 10 (Observation) to Deck 11 where the cabanas are located.

 

IMG_1806_LUCiD.thumb.JPG.8a0bdd1f9fd52f1020cf771c286b42ff.JPG

 

The area just past the first cabana is where the two restrooms are located. There's a dedicated men's room and ladies' room as well as two showers.

 

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Bear in mind that these photos were all taken on sea days. This is the least crowded we've ever seen the center seating areas. It may be a function of this being a Christmas cruise.

 

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To reach the Retreat Cabana area, you take the regular forward elevators to Deck 10, the Observation Deck. Then, you can either walk up the stairs (if you are having Dive-In food and a milkshake for lunch) or you can take the dedicated elevator (if you are having a salad and water.) I mention the forward elevators because there were still some people trying to reach the Crow's Nest by taking midship or aft elevators, even toward the end of the cruise. I can sympathize because in 2003, one of the times when we tried to get to the Crow's Nest after dinner, we wound up outside and wind-whipped. We fought a serious headwind to make it to the Crow's Nest, squinting and trying to read our little paper ship maps. I'd like to blame it on alcohol, because we had been drinking, but the truth is that we just didn't know our way around. We've gotten a lot better since then and rarely get turned around and lost.

 

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At the top of the stairs, you take a left to enter the cabana area. There's also a crew-only door to the right which goes to an outdoor crew area, forward.

 

SAM_3187_LUCiD.JPG.47de5e66c43ea40777ffc40a3ac55078.JPG

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Each of the two-person cabanas has two loungers, a small side table that is coffee table height, a small dining-height table and two chairs. The table is a convenient place to take your breakfast, lunch or snacks. Ours was cabana #8.

 

IMG_1813_LUCiD.thumb.JPG.4c745477ae14828deeacda31d464fb16.JPG

 

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IMG_1850_LUCiD.thumb.JPG.8adbc10bac1df5487da7af60e69c0a6d.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dude.... How lazy can you be?

 

As I looked out at the Zuiderdam sailing into Port Everglades for the third or fourth time since we got home, I came to the stark realization that I'd been slacking off (more than usual) and that I needed to wrap up this "Not Even Remotely Close to Live From" thread. At the rate I'm going, we'll be on our 2019 Christmas Cruise before I finish this one.

 

Here are the last of the Cabana Living images. They capture just how large and sparsely populated the retreat area is. Most of these photos were taken on sea days and the cabanas were "at or near" capacity.

 

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Looking out toward the aft from the exit at the top of the stairs. The high-numbered cabanas are on the right.

 

 

 

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Moving aft, into the open area before you reach the actual cabanas. Note that the "crowd" consists of one person, Michelle.

 

 

 

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Turning slightly toward the starboard, you can see just how packed in the people are in this oh-so-crowded area.

 

 

SAM_3214_LUCiD.JPG.500edef4a051f53ec8c06a35192dcb7d.JPG

There is a fruit-infused water station by the exit from the elevator down to deck below. (The Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam had two different infused waters each day. The Zuiderdam only had one. Please note that this does not RUIN your vacation. It does, however, allow you to scream ""Cutbacks!" - Just kidding.)

 

 

IMG_1807_LUCiD.thumb.JPG.f7645f02dac2419afc718e57e49bc59b.JPG

Note the crowding.

 

 

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We had two or three cabana attendants to deal with the crush of humanity in the Retreat Area. I probably don't have to tell you, but the service was outstanding.

 

 

 

 

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One of the Family Cabanas lost its roof at some point before we sailed. It wasn't rented. (The cabana, not the missing roof.)

 

 

 

 

Edited by POA1
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One last thing to wrap up the Guide to Cabana Living:

 

Our Cabana, the romantically named #8, had a double 120 VAC power outlet under the table. I'm pretty sure all of the aft-facing ones did as well. I didn't check the side-facing cabanas, so perhaps someone could check that. 

 

If you wanted to have a super-productive work vacation (and let's face it; who doesn't?) You could couple your internet package with the never-run-your-battery-down cabana workspace.

 

2018--computer.jpg.da172f4645a056aa875efd1ae726c831.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Leaving tomorrow...very excited...one last VERY IMPORTANT question 😉 :  How is the TV programming (and variety) on the ship?  On Royal there is a very limited selection and by day 3, as they seem to repeat the same few shows over and over again ad nauseum, we find we have watched about every episode of everything they have a couple of times.  DW is someone who needs her background TV on whenever we are in the cabin...so I thought I'd ask on her behalf. Thanks

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On 2/18/2019 at 5:42 PM, fatcat04 said:

Ping back... talking about your great travel router solutions here

 

 

 

Pingback? Be still my WordPress-lovin' heart. :classic_biggrin: Thanks for the shout out, hat tip, thumbs-up and all that other interwebs stuff. 

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48 minutes ago, CruisinShips said:

Leaving tomorrow...very excited...one last VERY IMPORTANT question 😉 :  How is the TV programming (and variety) on the ship?  On Royal there is a very limited selection and by day 3, as they seem to repeat the same few shows over and over again ad nauseum, we find we have watched about every episode of everything they have a couple of times.  DW is someone who needs her background TV on whenever we are in the cabin...so I thought I'd ask on her behalf. Thanks

 

Live TV is pretty much limited to news and sports. There are news channels to satisfy anyone from left to right and BBC World News if you want non-US news. 

 

There is a ton of on-demand television, movie and documentary content. Whether or not you will like the TV content depends on what you normally watch and like. Our movie selections were more holiday themed because it was a Christmas cruise. However, as a general rule, you'll see almost everything you would see in first class on a long haul flight. 

 

There is also quite a bit of America's Test Kitchen and New York Times content as they both have agreements with HAL. 

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56 minutes ago, CruisinShips said:

Leaving tomorrow...very excited...one last VERY IMPORTANT question 😉 :  How is the TV programming (and variety) on the ship?  On Royal there is a very limited selection and by day 3, as they seem to repeat the same few shows over and over again ad nauseum, we find we have watched about every episode of everything they have a couple of times.  DW is someone who needs her background TV on whenever we are in the cabin...so I thought I'd ask on her behalf. Thanks

 

HAL doesn't do the "loop" thing that RCL does. Everything is on demand. Free, but on demand. IMO it's better than RCL and way better than NCL... However, I don't have enough experience to speak any kind of authority. 

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On 12/16/2018 at 10:23 AM, POA1 said:

We were on the ship by 11:55 am. Rooms were ready at 12:10 pm. EBP upgrade accomplished on the first attempt. Shout out to Jude from the Lido. We're happy, happy campers. 

 How much was it to upgrade from the SBP to EBP?

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